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Old 07-06-2011, 12:15   #1
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Spot Connect: Remote Communications / Tracking

Hi y'all. We recently used the new Spot Connect during a 2 week cruise around the Cyclades islands in Greece. Thought I should share our experience.

It ended up being quite a good investment. Turns out the VHF radio on the boat was inoperable, we couldn't get cell signal most times, and we had some nasty weather for most the trip.

Without the Spot Connect, nobody would have known where we were, should anything ghastly happen.

FYI, the Connect uses satellite (of course) to get your GPS location, then satellite to send the location, along with (optionally) a short text message to a server in the cloud. So, no dependency on VHF, SSB,Cell, etc. This let us keep friends and family appraised on where we were. It has a 'tracking' mode that relays your position every 10 minutes, if you want it to.

We got in the habit of starting it every morning in tracking mode.

With the previous version of Spot, you were limited to pre-defined text messages. With the Connect, you can put anything you want in the text message from a BlueTooth device like iPhone or android phone.

Cool secondary benefit: you can make detailed maps showing your route. I'm going to try to paste one below of our route. Full blown (pun intended) details of our Greek Sailing Odyssey are on our blog at:
Greece - Roaming the Aegean Sea

Opa!

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Old 20-08-2011, 12:58   #2
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Re: Spot Connect: Remote Communications/Tracking

Just to revive this......
I just took delivery of one. A bit of a pain to set up and pair, but finally got it working OK. The GPS took a long time to initialize, and actually never did until the cell was paired... perhaps it got an initial position from the cell?

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Old 20-08-2011, 15:30   #3
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Re: Spot Connect: Remote Communications / Tracking

Hi there - I've noticed that it takes a little longer to acquire a GPS fix the first time it's booted up in a totally new region. For example, we used it in Greece, Chesapeake Bay, then back here in Alaska. The first time at each location took a little longer - I think it needs to get new satellite tracks, etc.

The Bluetooth pairing is a real pain. When I have it in Tracking mode, I shut off my cell phone so that it doesn't kill the battery. When I turn the phone back on at the end of the day, I always have to go back into the phone settings and 're-pair' the connection.

That irritation aside, I still love the device. This week we were in a remote part of Alaska (no cell, etc.) and we were able to send text messages to friends/family with our status.

I've gotten used to relying on the little colored LEDs on the device to confirm that it's working as it should - since the iPhone app is clunky, non-intuitive and requires the pairing.

I'd be interesting in hearing how you (or anyone else) likes it. Seems to me to be the cheapest & most flexible way of sending updates out when disconnected from the rest of the world.

If anyone is going to give it a shot, you will definitely want to give yourself some time to configure and test it out before you are out in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 20-08-2011, 17:17   #4
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Re: Spot Connect: Remote Communications / Tracking

I had a previous SPOT and liked it. The ability to customize a text was just too great of a lure to pass by.
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